What are the narrative techniques used in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?

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dule05 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The third person point of view is utilized in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Nevertheless, this does not mean there is an omniscient narrative voice like in many literary works before Joyce (for instance, Dickens's novels).  Joyce was not interested in providing a depiction of exterior details and overview of the main action. He desired to focus on the mind of an individual and how the world is perceived through one's thoughts. Therefore, he does not tell us anything; he shows us the world through his characters.

The novel focuses on its protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, and Joyce's writing and ideas throughout the whole novel are adapted to Stephen's age. For instance, when Stephen is just a young child, at the beginning of the novel, Joyce uses basic vocabulary and imitates children's diction and ideas. In contrast, when Stephen is older, towards the end of the book, the vocabulary and ideas utilized become very sophisticated and complex.

Most importantly, Joyce employs an experimental narrative technique called "stream of consciousness," which presents a character's continuous flow of thoughts as they emerge. 

He also uses interior monologue, by which characters' thoughts and emotions are expressed.

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